The devastation in Japan brings a lot of things into perspective. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Japanese people. Those of us who are lucky to have our families alive and well feel grateful that we still have one of the most important parts of life.
But what about other parts of our lives? Are they still important as well? The figure-skating community has been affected by the situation in Japan like the rest of the world – and by the fact that the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships originally scheduled to begin on March 21 were scheduled for Tokyo, Japan.
It’s obviously not appropriate to have the World Championships as originally scheduled. I don’t know what can or should happen with this year’s Worlds. But I do know that, despite everything that’s happened, sports are still important.
ESPN Commentary published an excellent article about this exact topic. The article is called “Japan and the Vanishing Point.” In the article, Jeff MacGregor says that the superficial and commercial parts of sports are unimportant. But he also says that the “object lessons in near-limitless human potential” are important:
I’m not talking about sports stardom or sports celebrity or sports money. Those things are unimportant. . . . But a kid driving the lane midair all grace and fire and defiance of gravity is not. The NFL draft or the NFL lockout or the NFL logo on your comforter and sheet set is nonsense. The courage to get back up having been knocked down is not. Opening ceremonies are majestic, profitable nonsense. Usain Bolt, 9.58, is not.
I think of all the positive character traits our children can learn through sports. I know my children have developed skills and traits that will serve them well throughout their lives . . . traits like self-confidence and the ability to work hard, develop self-discipline, and persevere through adversity.
I think of inspiring examples of strength and courage through adversity that encourage us all to dig deeper and persevere through hardship . . . examples like the Paralympians and the Special Olympians. . . . examples like Joannie Rochette at the 2010 Olympics and John Coughlin at the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Jeff MacGregor talks about “our idea of ourselves” . . . “the irreducible human gesture at the center of modern sports.” He says:
This we call hope. This is what keeps us alive. This is how we persist. This is why sports are important.
Note: Here’s an article from Time on “How You Can Help the Earthquake and Tsunami Victims in Japan.”